American democracy is crumbling, England is in turmoil, nuclear war could break out at any moment, everything worth loving is being wrestled onto the pyre, and, to compound the misery, we're being bombarded with simplistic and shallow solutions: X Movie/Album/TV Show/Exhibition Is What We Need Right Now, reads the headline on, by my count, every single arts-related feature from London to Los Angeles. Which is not true.
Except for Algiers. Algiers might be what we need right now.
Or, at least, there's never been a better time to have them around. The Atlanta-by-way-of-London-and-New York quartet returned this morning, releasing a new single and announcing the follow-up to 2015's captivating, self-titled industrial-soul debut. The Underside Of Power will be released on June 23 on Matador. There's a powerful team behind the album: production from Portishead's Adrian Utley and Ali Chant, post-production from the Men's Ben Greenberg, Randall Dunn of Sunn O))) behind the mixing desk.
The title-track is another striking blend of near-apocalyptic tension and Book of Revelation gospel. It builds around Matt Tong's Northern Soul dancefloor drums, with Lee Tesche's guitar jumping between jagged reverb in the verses and bright, poppy flickers in the chorus. Franklin James Fisher's voice is the standout, obviously, loose and every bit as powerful as it was on Algiers.
Fisher shared a statement with the song:
I heard someone say once that you don't know what real power is until you're on the wrong side of it. That was the inspiration for "The Underside Of Power." To be someone who has known first-hand, the full brunt of institutional force, the feeling of being completely vulnerable to it and powerless against it, is a bitter reality for the vast majority of people. The image of an insect being squashed by a boot comes to mind. But with that image comes a slightly hopeful paradox: Just as all systems have inherent flaws, so does the proverbial boot, which leaves the slight possibility for the insect to creep through and bite back…
Listen to the track and watch the video, directed by Henry Busby, at the top of the page.